Moving to London was a dream for us, but having done it, it’s fair to say that moving has not been an easy transition. Some of this is related to our expectation of life in London versus the reality being very different. Most of it though is just adjusting to the rhythm of this megacity. We love London inside and out, but before you make the move make sure you know what you’re in for.
Moving to London – What are our Pros and Cons?
|Living in London – Pros||Living in London – Cons|
|London never sleeps – Get anything anytime||Congestion – It can get too cozy|
|There’s always something going on||It’s expensive|
|No Prejudices – You can be yourself||Poor Work-Life Balance|
Wherever you live, undoubtedly there will be pros and cons and London is no different. It’s really useful to know as much about the city before you go there, so you can make the most of it. So ask people who live in London what it’s like. Read blogs like this. It makes the ‘transition’ period quicker and can help you to avoid potential issues when you move. Anyway, let’s get into the information you’ve been waiting for.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in London?
The Advantages of London
London never sleeps – Get anything anytime
London really does not stop. Whether you need a taxi, fancy a bite to eat or even decide at 3 am in the morning that you need a haircut, you will not be short of options in London.
When it comes to public transport, you really are spoiled for choice. Regular buses, a great underground service (3 minute wait times between trains) as well as Uber and black cab services if you want them, you always have options.
There’s always something going on
You can always find something to do in London. You really do have everything on your doorstep. From West End Theater productions to comedy nights to rock climbing if you want to. We’re trying to illustrate the variety you’ve got here.
The great thing about London is that it attracts the world’s best and most popular talent in every genre. There are also so many sporting events, festivals and musical events to keep you busy. We have gone into more detail in our London vs New York – Which City has the best weather as well as our How to Enjoy London like Local articles if you’re looking for more information.
The important thing is though to not to get numb everything happening around you when you live in London. What we mean here, is that when you live in London it’s easy for the novelty of everything to wear off. BUT DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN!
Force yourself out, you’re fortunate enough to be in one of the most exciting cities in the world, make sure you embrace it.
On that note, don’t wait for the weekend to have fun. Meet friends for dinner, catch a show if you get out of work early. Meet up with your spouse in Central London after work if you finish early.
London is a city where options are available to you all the time. I’m not saying go out every night, but once in a while making an effort to experience something new, even if it is in the week.
No Prejudices – In London you can be yourself
We picked London as the most multicultural city in the UK in our article on multicultural cities in the UK. This isn’t just because of the amount of ethnic diversity in London.
The city generally celebrates its cultural diversity. I can’t imagine you being discriminated against in London based on your beliefs, sexual orientation or race in London. In that respect, it’s a brilliant city.
Disadvantages of Living in London
Congestion in London – It can get very cozy
If you are planning on working in London, expect to get squished on a daily basis when using all forms of public transport. London is home to over 9 million people and you will become acutely aware of this fact on your daily commute!
Even if you are driving, be prepared for extreme traffic. If you are driving, it’s probably better to have a car with an automatic gearbox, due to all the stopping and starting in traffic. London has a congestion charge for vehicles driving in Central London. To find out more about this here is a link to the official Transport for London website.
It’s Expensive in London
Things, in general, cost more in London comparatively speaking to the rest of the UK. Whether you are talking about a drink at a bar, a taxi fare, rent for a house or flat, expect to pay a lot more in the big smoke.
It’s really important to be aware of this. If you are moving to London because of the money, make sure you pick where you live wisely otherwise you will find yourself trapped in the rat race.
Here’s an idea of monthly costs you should prepare for if you live in Central London
- Rent: £800 ($1040) – £1200 ($1560) PCM
- Council Tax: £150 ($195) PCM (assuming that you’ll be sharing with other people)
- Shopping budget: £280 ($365) PCM
- Public transport: £200 ($260) PCM
We think this is expensive, and if you do too don’t worry, there is a way around this. If you are moving to London as part of a couple or with a group of friends, you could halve your costs if you rent on one tenancy agreement.
Areas that are cheaper but still have relatively quick commuting times into Central London are as follows:
- Redbridge (Areas in and around Ilford)
- Barking and Dagenham
To give you a more comprehensive view of rents you would expect to pay in London we found a really good resource on comparemymove.com, which you can check out here.
Going through Gumtree and Spareroom.com is a preferable option if you are moving to London on your own, and a great way to make friends.
If you do move to London be careful of scams and Rogue Landlords. Don’t transfer money to landlords you’ve never met, and fully inspect the room or property you let before you sign anything. Read Gumtree’s tips for safely finding a place to live for do’s and don’ts.
In our opinion, you should live as cheaply as you can. You can save more and do more. In a city like London, you need the money and it would be a shame if you have to waste it all on rent.
Poor Work-Life Balance in London
If you work in the financial services area, expect to work longer hours than your typical 9-5.
Even if you don’t, because of commuting times in London, unless you live very central (which is expensive) expect to be traveling after work for a minimum of about 45 minutes each way.
Hopefully, this won’t put you off. These kind of commuting times are pretty typical of any big city, but it’s useful to bear it in mind.
On the flip side – salaries tend to be higher in London so it’s not as bad as it seems. That said if you can get a decent paying job, and avoid blowing your paycheck on your rent, that has got to be a plus!
What else should I know before moving to London?
Remember – one of the best things about the UK is free healthcare so at least you won’t need to factor in any of these costs.
Europe is on your doorstep! London has 6 airports, for more details, check our article here, where we go into a bit more detail. You can find somewhere to go at any time of the year, and because of the UK’s super cheap no-frills airlines you can go without spending too much.
The UK is tiny and London’s transport links are great – just because you live in London, it doesn’t mean that you have to spend all of your time there. Traveling to Scotland, Ireland, Wales or elsewhere in England can easily be done on weekends!
The UK is a cool and quirky place, and that’s what we love about it. If you’re looking for inspiration on things to do we’ve got yet another article on fun things to do outside of London, to get your adventurous juices flowing.
The weather is not that bad – Contrary to popular belief that London is super cold, it’s actually not. Summers are actually pretty warm, and winters are not that chilly. Ok, occasionally it can get a bit overcast and dull, but I wouldn’t let the weather dissuade you from moving to this city.
London is generally safe – As far as megacities go, London feels a lot safer in our opinion to the likes of New York or Paris for instance. You generally don’t feel like you’re going to be hassled in any way and you can walk around at night without much bother.
That said, as you’re probably aware there have been incidents in the capital, so it’s important to stay vigilant to any threats.
Central London is small – You can walk very easily between many tube stops without spending any money. A lot of the time it’s not worth the money or the hassle.
The best thing to do, when you initially move at least, is to get directions from google maps to check if it’s worth it. You’ll save a fortune over time, I promise you.
Travel around London is generally contactless – So depending on where you’re from, travel around London is generally digital. You can’t even pay by cash on a bus in London.
So check to see if your bank card is enabled to be contactless or alternatively get an oyster card (Transport for London top-up card).
The great thing about the contactless payment is that you will automatically be charged the lowest fare possible.
There are also spending caps per day. This means that however much you travel on one particular day traveling, you can’t be charged above an allocated amount (roughly around £20).
What are the people in London like?
People in London get a bad rap in our opinion. We were told before we moved to London that Londoners are rude, they don’t have time for anyone and generally unhelpful.
They are not that bad. In terms of random acts of kindness, I see people giving up their seats, making room for other people on busy trains almost on a daily basis.
It’s also pretty difficult to typecast people in London. There are literally people from every corner of the globe.
That said there is some London etiquette you should be aware of, just so you don’t annoy people or be perceived as a weirdo.
London travel etiquette you should be aware of before you move here
There are kind of unwritten rules when it comes to traveling on the London Underground or train network for that matter.
- On an escalator stick to the right. It’s just not proper to stand anywhere else in any situation. Whether you’re with friends, drunk, ill or about to have a baby, stick to the right. In case you’re wondering, the left-hand side is the fast lane, therefore if you’re standing there, you are a roadblock.
- Only talk to strangers when traveling if you’re complaining about a delay or the weather. Anything else will freak people out.
- Don’t take your time when traveling. It’s weird but unless you’re in a rush or semi-rush at least, you will annoy people. People in London are in a hurry and unless you keep pace, you’ll find people walking around you whispering horrible nothings about you.
But apart from that Londoners are great..ahem!
Is it easy to make friends in London?
Well if you walk up to someone in the street and ask them if they will be your friend, I’ll be honest, they’ll run a mile. But, that’s not the way it’s done anyway.
Hopefully, when you move to London you’ll make friends either with the people that you work with or live with.
If not, don’t worry. Thankfully we live in the digital age of apps and gadgets that can help you do almost anything.
We’d recommend you sign up to meetup.com. Through this website, you can meet like-minded people depending on your interests and make as many friends as you want.
Even if you do have friends, meetup.com is great if you want to try an activity that your friends might not want to. The world is your oyster people!
If you do want to make friends the ‘old fashioned’ way, it’s perfectly acceptable to go to a pub and get involved in quiz nights or game nights on your own. You’ll find that you’ll start meeting people organically and before you know it, you’ll have a ton of friends!
If you are looking for a romantic acquaintance, we’ll leave that search up to you, but there are obviously a lot of apps you can download to meet people. The bar and music scene is also great. If you’re looking for some options to explore, we go into this in our article for the best areas to stay when visiting London.
If we had to pick one thing that we love the most in London what would it be?
For us, London’s diversity in every way is the most appealing thing about the city. From a culinary perspective, you can try authentic cuisine from so many countries that will be less than a mile away from you.
Not just that, from festivities to cultural practices, you really can try anything in London. The harmony between different people from different backgrounds, faiths is refreshing as well.
Overall Is Living in London Good or Bad?
Not to get too romantic here, but the beauty of any city really is in the eye of the beholder.
As we mentioned, we had a rocky start to London life, and it took time to adjust. However, when we decided to make a concerted effort to get to know the city, we quickly became aware of how truly incredible a city London is.
Choosing where you live is a key component that will drive how good your experience will be in London, and we hope that our tips will help you make the decision that is right for you.
London is an expensive city, so make sure your decisions allow you to afford the experience that you want.
If you enjoyed our article, feel free to check out some of our other content on London, the UK as well as when we’re abroad.
Here are some of our picks that we hope you will enjoy.